CV etiquette question: how much is TMI?

Classy Claude writes in with an interesting question:

Dear Historiann,

I’m just totally curious:

  • Should CVs include lists of places where one’s book has been reviewed?
  • Should CVs include lists of other articles/books that cite one’s own work?
  • Should CVs include lists of articles/media outlets where one has been interviewed?

I have seen all of these things recently and I was sort of shocked, but maybe this is the way of the future?  What do you and your readers think? 

Your Pal,

Classy Claude

Wow, Claude–I don’t think I’ve ever seen a CV quite like any of the ones that may be coming across your desk, but I haven’t been on a search committee since 2004-05, or in terms of the evolution of technology and trends in the profession, since the War of 1812I can see including a list of media outlets or articles whose reporters have interviewed you about your work, because talking about your work if it’s timely or relevant to the news is a form of service to the community, and many hiring departments and other historians think that’s important evidence of professional engagement.  But listing every single book review one gets, or (stranger yet) listing every book or article that cites one’s work?  That seems over-the-top. 

Then again, the purpose of the CV is (after all) self-promotion, so I can’t think of any particular reason not to include it.  (Or rather, I personally wouldn’t kick you out of a pool of candidates for a job or a fellowship if you did this.)  I can absolutely see the temptation if your book were reviewed in the New York Review of Books to drop that casually into your CV, but seriously:  if your book is being reviewed in outlets like that, there’s major buzz about your work and professional historians already know it.  I have it on good authority that even people born in the 1940s know how to do a Google search, and they’re doing them for all job applicants in case there’s something you might have neglected to include on your CV, like a high-profile arrest, embarrassing FaceBook photos,or a blog.

I can’t see any reason whatsoever to include a list of works that cite your work.  That just strikes me as defensive and/or a little desperate, as though you lack confidence in your own work.  (Whatever the truth, I just assume that my work is important, and it seems like it’s getting cited pretty regularly in places where it should be cited.)  But maybe this is the wave of the future.  What the hell do I know?  I keep humming “The Battle of New Orleans” in my head.

Readers:  take it away!  And Claude:  stay classy.

40 thoughts on “CV etiquette question: how much is TMI?

  1. This surprises me. It hasn’t been that long since I’ve been on a search committee, and I’ve never seen any of this. I do agree that interviews should be included, but not the other stuff. If you’ve written anything significant in your field, I’m assuming that people are citing it. Including it seems like overkill.

    Though certainly better than listing the names of your children!

    And I’ll be on a search later this year-we’ll see what happens.


  2. In the sciences, it would be extraordinary to list particular papers that cite your papers, except that people do list “News and Views”-type puff pieces that are published contemporaneously with a research article.


  3. Law academics routinely list the media stuff, in part because the subject matter often lends itself to that kind of public engagement (in a way that’s not so true for medievalists). And when I was reviewing articles for our law review, authors would often communicate the citation/review information as a way to make their article look more appealing (it didn’t work, but hey, they tried). I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the latter stuff on a c.v., but my impression is that such things are regularly tracked? (But then, a prominent ranking of law reviews is based almost entirely on numbers of citations. So it wouldn’t shock me if some of this made its way to a c.v.)


  4. I find it helpful when people list the scholarly reviews of their work, especially when they are Europeanists and the most serious reviews may be a little harder to find. Listing references and interviews calls to mind Sam Spade’s eternally valid observation, “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.”


  5. Tony–thanks for pointing out the provincialism of my initial response! You are correct–there are LOTS of journals that may review books that aren’t published in the U.S. and aren’t even in English. (And even when they’re in English, U.S.-based scholars don’t always know about reviews elsewhere. For example, my book had a very positive review in the Australasian Journal of American Studies that I only found out about because an Antipode-born colleague told me about it.)

    So, scholars writing non-North American history and/or publishing in languages other than English have good reason to include reviews that may not come to the attention of U.S.-based scholars on fellowship & hiring committees.


  6. I would consider some of what Classy Claude describes jejune: let people read our work (which one prays that they will) rather than reading other people’s opinions of it. I sometimes look of reviews if it is a search way out of my field, so just having a couple lines that say (reviewed in the Journal of the History of Blah, Queer Extravaganza, and The Journal of Women and Children could point folks in the right direction.

    As for the media stuff, again, I would just list something under Public Scholarship (we hired one candidate who had written several children’s history books, which was neither here nor there, but at the semi-finalist stage it did make him see fun and a little intriguing.)

    I have a website, powered by Word Press, that has a page called In the Media, which frankly is mostly for the media, since radio folks want to know whether you are a good interview or not before they put you on the air, and they can listen & find out. But I also think it helped me get my new job, since what they wanted was a publicly engaged scholar.


  7. I could see reviews in the case that Tony has pointed out. Having access to that information when you’re attempting to assess the reception and importance of a non-mainstream field publication? That’s useful.

    However, when applying for a job (and you DO have a different version of your CV for your website, for the CV to accompany grant applications and for various other purposes, right?), you can shift a great deal of that information to the letter OR to a page in your application that outlines your research achievements and agenda. Consider, if there’s a public outreach element you’re trying to nail down, of highlighting the interviews in that part of an application. But be wary of dumping them into a “one-size-fits-all” CV solution!


  8. I’d say that if you’re going to include media interviews, make sure those are actually relevant and/or impressive. I’m a grad student who (obviously) hasn’t seen many CVs, but I recently had a funny experience regarding media on a CV: about a year ago I looked up the online CV for a department head in a small college in a (very) provincial town I know well (not the big Midwestern city where I am now, I should note). Said department head had actually included the 15 or so interviews (over about as many years) he/she had done with a well-known local reporter, as well as half a dozen write-ups of college events in the local also-ran paper (ie., 6-page paper that exists as a file folder for weekly advertising). I think I actually burst out laughing as I read it–there’s no one in that town who _hasn’t_ been interviewed by that reporter, and getting your event in that also-ran paper probably does less for it than putting up posters at Starbucks. So please, CV-writers, try to think outside your current location: an airtime-filling chat with a local reporter is not CV-worthy.

    Actually, upon reflection, that particular CV might be an interesting case study in town/gown divisions. Clearly the department head was trying to highlight her local connections and commitment to the town. But it would take someone with local knowledge to know how problematic that CV was: she’d listed a few non-academic books from early in her career in such a way that it looked like they were published in small, independent presses–but I happen to know those are actually self-publishing printers. It made me wonder, if she ever chose to shop it around, whether another fellow academic could read between the lines as well as I could with my “townie” knowledge. Have those of you who’ve served on search committees ever had to do a lot of googling to understand an apparently innocuous CV item, only to discover that it’s not nearly as impressive as it seems?


  9. Adding to PhysioProf, even the science (whatever that means) are not uniform although she/he has it close. We don’t mention citations. Better schools list refereed journal papers, refereed conference papers, grants and fellowships and major awards. Editor-in-chief role of a major journal tends to be listed. Books are added but their role isn’t major.

    As opposed to what I read in this blog, sciences are journal paper centric rather than book writing centric.


  10. Thanks for posting my question, Historiann. It comes not from a search committee — I am very grateful to be avoiding that particular duty this year. CVs from searches I’ve been on haven’t included this type of info because we’re always hired at the assistant level so few of the applicants have had books to be reviewed or cited and/or media appearances.

    This has just been a question I’ve wondered about every once in a while as I’ve looked up various people whose books I’ve read or seen give a paper or met at a conference, etc. I have yet to add any of these things to my CV. I’m tempted only by the interviews part, which I agree maybe seems legit — the rest I probably wouldn’t do. And I DEFINITELY wouldn’t include the list of citations.


  11. I’d agree with most or all of the above. Interviews if they’re broadly germane in some sense (as opposed to being the only person in the office that day when a beat reporter calls looking for someone who’s heard of the French and Indian War). In a category, maybe, with things like expert witness requests, consulting gigs and the like. As for book reviews, interested members of the search committee should be given the opportunity to track some of that stuff for themselves (if they’re not interested enough to do so a citation nudge probably won’t help). And PhysioProf can correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s my impression that in the hard sciences a lot of data on citations, and patterns of citation, is already available at pretty short reach. Maybe that’s coming in the humanities too. But where would it end? I like learning that something I’ve written is on a syllabus, but would that get a spot on a vita too? A candidate for a very high level administrative post here at Brezh State recently supplied a vita that was so relentlessly narrative it was almost impossible to read for the underlying data.

    I got nabbed off the street while on a research trip in London once to “help” the local police by appearing in an “identification parade” (their term for a line-up). My bag was filled with arcane research notes and a tourist camera with a picture of–as it turned out–the crime scene. I was sweating bullets about the latter, but it made a great story for the post-seminar cocktail hour. Not going to see light on my c.v., though.


  12. Well, when we are reviewed for merit increases, I have colleagues who list(a) blurbs they have written for books (b) articles they have written for local papers and (c) all the reviews of their books.
    I think, with Tony, that the last can be helpful, but that’s not *your* CV; I might attach it as an extra.

    Also, with search engines these days, it’s actually pretty easy to find citations of published work, and to find book reviews. Our library catalog drives me crazy because it includes this information. So if I search “Historiann” as author, it will push up not just her publications but also reviews of her book. If I’m looking for Historiann’s book, I sometimes have to go through several screens.


  13. I’ve seen a lot of CVs with the information of what scholarly journals have reviewed ones book. The point is to highlight the importance of the book. So many books come out every year, that if your book has been reviewed by 2-3 top journals, then it looks very good as to the importance of the book (of course, assuming that those reviews are not destroying the book).


  14. A similar query to folks – we had a job candidate who listed a series of “invited lectures” – all of which I could identify as job talks given the year before (I matched things up on the jobs wiki). Is this acceptable? It struck me as odd. Sadly, I gave A LOT of job talks before I got a job – I’d love to add another 1/2 page of invited lectures to my cv but it seems tacky.

    Oh, and I’ve seen folks list the titles of journals where reviews of their book(s) can be found. But it was simply a note “reviewed in journals X, Y, & Z.”


  15. As a public historian (formerly with a university and now as a university of one) I create exhibitions and promote local history as well as my research interests. So I list interviews that are in-depth discussions of, rather than blurby promotions for a given exhibition or two lines lending “gravitas” to a local reporter’s column on the house just purchased by history buffs who claim it’s an Underground Railroad station even though records reveal it was built in the 1880s. (Sigh. Claims of UG sites and the quilt code hoax–amateur historians are still offering talks on that discredited book–are on the rise in my little part of the world, thanks to the Civil War Sesquicentennial. It’s going to be a long three-and-a-half more years.)

    In lieu of expensive gallery guides and exhibition catalogues and the lack of consistent review of exhibitions and like projects in history journals, these interviews provide an albeit poor record of the work of public historians and curators. A dilemma still exists in academe, when exhibitions still aren’t given the same weight as published journal essays or books, even as the historical research and interpretation required of exhibitions may break new ground and reach other audiences–what our professional organizations have been urging us to do! I’d love to know if anyone offers up an exhibit script or a HABS report or a consultant’s project review for university positions. Public history job descriptions still want to see a record of active practice (defining practice as exhibitions, National Register nominations, etc.), but do not count that as research applicable to tenure.


  16. I guess you could technically say it was an “invited” lecture but that’s pretty weak, no? This thread got me thinking about an essay I read in the _Chronicle_ in the mid-1990s by a pretty prominent academic who argued that scholars should feel honor-bound to keep what ze called something like “negative cv’s,” that would record job applications denied, article submissions rejected, coming in twelfth in an election for president of an honor society, things of that sort. Ze pitched this as a gesture designed less for personal sobriety reasons than as a way to communicate to less experienced practitioners that even stellar careers (like hir own) came with a lot more swinging strike-outs than line drive doubles, much less home runs. I’ve been trying to dredge the piece up with keyword queries to google, which can be sort of like talking to a stone, but I see that a scientist made a similar suggestion about a year ago: Melanie Stefan, “A CV of Failures,” _Nature_, 466 (01 November 2010; published online November 11, 10).

    It was clear in the essay I read years ago that this injunction was directed to senior people secure in their situations, not another hair shirt for neophytes to wear. Even as such I don’t think it would be for sending out with applications, but it would be a nice thing to pin to the bulletin board outside your office–with your actual CV–for the enlightenment of students waiting for news or advice, good or bad. And maybe an interesting thing to reconstruct as an exercise, if only to (as a New Yorker cartoon once expressed it) “keep a sharp edge on [your] righteous indignation…”


  17. Job talks as “invited lectures?” A-HAHAhahahahahaaaaa!!!

    Hilarious. Like I’d want to be reminded of all of my doomed efforts to find employment, let alone advertise them! I think there’s a role for that kind of negative CV, along the lines that Indyanna proposes, but certainly it’s not the one I’d send around as my calling card.

    I guess I also find this pretty funny, since not even the most eminent of scholars gives that many talks all bunched into a few weeks in late January through early March, presumably all on the same subject. (Unless one is a prominent African American historian doing numerous serial Af-Am History Month lectures and appearances.)


  18. Tenured Radical’s mention of her website brings up an interesting point regarding using electronic media as an extension of the CV. Have you seen many others taking this approach to highlight information or activities that may not stand out in a typical CV format?


  19. I’ve now heard the job talks thing both ways — I was once told I should definitely include them, though I think even at the time I only included one (what seemed really silly to me was to show off having given the same talk in three different places in 4 weeks…). One perspective is that a job search amounts to a series of invited lectures — yes, the target pool of people who might be invited is quite particular, but it still shows the esteem of the field.

    On the other hand, I once saw a CV that listed conferences to which the writer had applied and been accepted for, but to which they did not go. Speaking of negative CVs, should one include “failed to secure funding” on such an entry?


  20. My book was reviewed in a very prominent journal so I included that on my CV. A colleague was featured in a PBS documentary and he used to list that on his CV.


  21. @Stephen: honestly, I think one should give it a rest about things one has been accepted for but not done, with the sole exception of prestigious grants and research awards that had to be declined because they couldn’t be held simultaneously. I feel similarly about the many “honors” people put on their CV from grad school, much of which is just normal funding with fancy names. And no, a job talk is not the same as an invited talk: I would knock those off the cv too. Srsly, do you really want a committee to know how many jobs you haven’t been chosen for? Or call a friend at that uni about your “invited talk” only to discover that it was a job talk? A padded CV is like a padded bra: you got to wonder what is being hidden and why, and it’s a little embarrassing to everyone.

    @Bridgett: I think the electronic is exactly the place to go with some of this stuff, partly because not everything counts (or should count) in the frogmarch to tenure security. Developing a second persona as a public intellectual is fun and worthwhile. Although sometimes it can benefit one’s life as a scholar, sometimes it can be just be a satisfying diversion from the inanities of the professional world of scholarship.


  22. In addition to the many astute points made here, I’d like to add that when a committee is going through up to and sometimes exceeding 100 files for a job, including a CV that is more than 2-3 pages, filled with minutiae, is annoying rather than helpful. I like to be able to see important information (to be able to FIND it) rather than scrolling through page after page of inanities. Having a long CV doesn’t make a candidate look impressive.


  23. If I were Barbara Babcock, I’d be damn sure to figure out a way to show in my c.v. that Stallybrass and White took the line “what is socially marginal is often symbolically central” from me even though they often get the credit. But then I’d just be a shrill woman, right?


  24. Bridgett–you know, when I drafted my original post, I considered writing, “well, that’s what a blog is for!” in response to some of CC’s questions about stuff belonging on CVs (or NOT belonging on CVs.) But, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect everyone to start their own blogs or run their own websites.

    It seems like some of the issues raised by Classy Claude (especially where one’s book was reviewed) could be addressed in an application letter. That’s usually space in which candidates are given more generic leeway to build a case for their own candidacy, so why not brag a little there?


  25. RE: Historiann’s suggestion about a blog/website: I think setting up a page is an easy shortcut–it shows up pretty high in google hits, you have an “about me” page that you can put little braggy details on, and you can look at peers’ cvs to get a sense of standard practices. I know in many departments getting a grad student or faculty page updated is a pain, but your profile on is in your hands . The site actually fails as real social networking site (all my virtual academic networking happens on Facebook) but it’s not bad for a ready-made self-promoting website.


  26. I wish there was some way for ADM & I to include the work leading our blogular writing group. If we were putting this much planning, organizing, and feedback-giving into leading a group of 40 writers in weekly meetings for 12 weeks IRL, it would totally count as “service,” I’d think.

    (This is only tangential to Claude’s query, which I think is an excellent one. It’s just a related musing.)


  27. Notorious: why couldn’t you and ADM and your fellow collaborators agree on a name for what it is you’ve done, and then you can all use it on your CVs? (Although I guess that could eventually blow your cover as Notorious Ph.D.)

    Maybe you and she should start a blog just for co-ordinating your writing group, so that you *can* get credit for it?


  28. I have always included a list of works that cited my publications when applying for jobs. It is quite long now. I am still getting a couple of citations a year even for my first book published in 1997.


  29. I don’t include the list of citations as part of the CV. It is sent as a separate document. It didn’t get me any interviews in the US, but I think it shows that my work has contributed to the field. It may be a sign of insecurity. But, since I am basically a nobody anyways I figured I should use anything I had to boost myself. I realize now it was all wasted effort as far as the US applications go. I don’t think it hurt me, however.


  30. And no, a job talk is not the same as an invited talk: I would knock those off the cv too. Srsly, do you really want a committee to know how many jobs you haven’t been chosen for?

    In the natural sciences, this is not a relevant distinction, and people always put their job talks on their CVs in the list of invited seminars. It is obvious which invited seminars were job talks–the ones that were in the late fall, winter, and spring of the last year of post-doctoral training–and it is informative to see where they were invited. And it says nothing about which of those job talks did or didn’t lead to offers, except–obviously–the one that was taken.


  31. In the current desperate economic climate, as a non-academic writer, I say throw in everything. Throw in the kitchen sink. Maybe put the “second-tier” info in a separate section at the end, so anyone who feels an aversion to it can easily bypass it.

    Good luck finding a job in corporate-owned America.


  32. I started getting a little bit of publicity this year and being a public advocate for the humanities is important to me. (I think we need the PR, even if we know how valuable our contributions to society are.) I have a little “media appearances/interviews” section in my CV that wasn’t there a year ago. We’ll see if it helps.

    But, yeah, keep job talks off of the CV. 🙂



  33. Re:

    “And no, a job talk is not the same as an invited talk: I would knock those off the cv too. Srsly, do you really want a committee to know how many jobs you haven’t been chosen for?”


    “In the natural sciences, this is not a relevant distinction, and people always put their job talks on their CVs in the list of invited seminars. It is obvious which invited seminars were job talks–the ones that were in the late fall, winter, and spring of the last year of post-doctoral training–and it is informative to see where they were invited. And it says nothing about which of those job talks did or didn’t lead to offers, except–obviously–the one that was taken.”

    That is really interesting. What do you humanities people say? Should we? I’ve done job talks at fancy places.

    I have a related question. I gave a lecture in a series here. Not refereed: we were all asked to give lectures, so I said sure, and did. Put on vita, or not? If so, how? What I was planning: give it somewhere refereed, then put it on as that. But what do you think?


  34. Z, I think there’s usually more status involved in giving an invited lecture instead of a conference paper. (I’m assuming that’s what you mean by “refereed.”) You can certainly include lectures at your own uni–depending on their content, though, you could file them under “invited lectures” or “community service/service to the uni.”


  35. I’m a little cynical about the whole invited lecture thing (having brought up the job talks issue) because I know a number of people who put down “invited lectures” where they were legitimately invited, but by a grad school buddy. So were they invited because of their work? Or was it because friends wanted to get together? I have mixed feelings about this issue too.


  36. Coming to this thread late, but I wanted to point out on the book review front that where a book is reviewed is mostly dependent on the press that published the book and where they send free copies. More commercially-minded presses send book review copies to more journals and newspapers as part of their marketing. True, a journal (whether “prestigious” or not) does not have to review the book, but their decision to do so depends on the perceived applicablity of that book to the journal’s mission and interests and is subject to the whims of the volunteer-labor book review editor, in most cases. So, I am far less impressed by what journals review a book then I am by what the actual reviews say, and therefore a list of reviews of one’s book on a c.v. is only useful as a finding aid (I would argue for not putting such information on the c.v.). Besides, the author of the c.v. is likely to list only reviews that are positive, I would think.


  37. SouthernProf: yes, I would suspect a bias in the reviews listed on the CV, but there are some unfortunates who garner only very mixed or even negative reviews, if any!

    Liz2 is right–invited lectures can be junkets, but I think that’s how lecture series have always been run. (That is, I think it’s rare that someone reads a book or article by Dr. X and is so impressed by its brilliance that they invite Dr. X to come talk completely out of the blue, without any personal or prior professional connection whatsoever.)

    I’ve done a few invited lectures, some more prominent than others. I use the term simply to note instances where I’m the only speaker AND instances where my participation was solicited (as opposed to being a part of a proposed conference panel or applying to be a part of a colloquium.) Only one of my invited lectures was an invitation from someone I didn’t know at all, and it was an invitation to talk about my blog!

    But, what is the nature of friendship in academia? I’m friends with a prominent Native American women’s historian who invited me to give a talk to her research group, but I *think* we’re friends because we got to know each other through our work, which we respect and admire mutually, and it just so happens that we also enjoy each other personally. I don’t think she’d invite someone to her campus whose work she didn’t respect. (And I know I couldn’t be real friends with someone in academia if I didn’t respect hir work.)


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